Saturday, June 29, 2019

“I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.” -Andrea Gibson

On June 7, 2019, I was coming home from work when I heard an ad talking about authentic representation of all women on social media. It discussed a world in which diversity is shown and all body types are celebrated through a project called #ShowUs.

Growing up, it wasn’t until I came across other social media figures with my body type talking about loving their bodies that I began to feel completely comfortable in my own skin. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve always been a very confident person. But when I was younger, seeing other girls loving themselves just had that clicking effect in my brain. The kind of clicking that said: Why can’t I wear crop tops, shorts, and dresses too? Why can’t I consider myself beautiful?

The ad spoke to me. The first thing I did when I got home was upload a picture to Instagram about self-love with the hashtag #ShowUs.


It is so important to show authentic representation of women in the media. After all, a world in which diversity is shown is more fun! If eyes are on you, your message should be one of inclusivity and positivity. 

For a long time, media and society have upheld the idea that only a specific type of body is attractive and deserving of love. What is the last romcom you watched in which the female lead was plus size? Or of color, or a minority? While there are movies that represent all types of women, most don’t. And don’t get me wrong; this “ideal” type of body is attractive and does deserve love. Asking for representation of all women doesn’t negate the beauty of the typical women already being represented and celebrated; cheers to you all! Like Taylor Swift said, we can all wear crowns.

I don’t believe in a world where we have to say that being slim is bad in order to say that being big is good. These two concepts can coexist… and should. 

What I’m saying is that we all deserve to see ourselves being represented; however, how YOU feel about yourself should not be affected by a lack of representation because we live in a faulty world and we need to know better.

Your self-love will not depend on the social standards 
that were created in a patriarchal society 
in order to sell you something.
 Your self-worth will not be measured 
by a number on a scale.

What I’m saying is… self-love has to come from within you, and some people have to work harder at achieving that than others. What I’m saying is... you should feel beautiful and loved despite what the leading cast of your favorite romcom looks like.

Your body is not incorrect because it’s different than what’s advertised.

Let's make this clear: We live in a society that profits from your self-doubt. Unrealistic beauty standards have been advertised for decades, and there are products in the industry to fix virtually everything they say is wrong with you. Blemishes? Wrong. Overweight? Wrong. Wrinkles and aging? Wrong. Body hair? Wrong. Here are all these creams, and treatments, and makeup, and weight loss products, and laser packages, and anti-aging creams for you! When society only advertises a certain image as beautiful, it automatically alienates all other bodies. If you don't fall into this "ideal" female body, you will inevitably begin to doubt yourself, and the industry (which is mostly ran by men) will profit off your insecurities.

And I'm not saying you shouldn't buy these products. I take care of my skin, I try to be healthy, I use face creams, and I wax. I do these things because I want to do them, not because I'm buying into the idea men would want me more if I looked a certain way. I'm not ashamed of my blemishes, or stomach rolls, or wrinkles. Not even the gray hairs I keep getting. My self-care doesn't come from self-doubt, but from self-love. In my own terms, and when I want to. 

Self-Love Tips

After I posted my photo with the hashtag #ShowUs, I received an unbelievable amount of love. Comments, DMs, Insta Story posts, tweets, and even e-mails. A conversation that resulted from my post was with the lovely Wilmarie (@Wilmarie09), who presented the idea of discussing self-love by doing an Instagram Live.

So, that’s exactly what we did. On Wednesday, June 12th, 2019, Wilmarie and I got on our phones and connected via IG Live to discuss this topic in depth and offer tips to whoever was listening. Shoutout to you, Wilmarie! You're a rockstar.

We made sure to touch on the topic of mental health, as mental health can have a lasting impact on how we feel about ourselves. I watched some TED talks, reflected on my own experiences, and gathered my thoughts.

Once the IG Live started, we both shared experiences, tips, and ideas on how to love ourselves. The following are some of the things I learned and talked about. First step: Fake it ‘til you make it. Act as if you feel like a star. Do it often, do it consistently, do it so much that your brain starts to believe it.

Here are other tips we discussed:

How to practice self-love
  • The way you speak to yourself is important. Tell yourself you’re beautiful, even when you don’t feel your best. Tell yourself you love yourself, even when you feel full of doubt. Tell yourself you are worth it, even when you feel worthless. That way, your brain will change the narrative of “Aw, I hate myself!” to “Ah, hey, there are things I’m thankful for.” Switch the tape. Stop replaying negative thoughts in your head, and press play on positive ones. SWITCH THE TAPE.
  • The average person spends 2-3 hours of their day thinking of all the things they hate about themselves or a specific body part they don’t like. That’s a lot of time of your life spent focusing on negativity. What if you changed those hours of self-hate into hours of self-love and positivity? Be kind and compassionate to yourself.

  • Learn to love yourself through how you love others. Wilmarie discussed this idea. and how to do this. You already know how to love your family, friends, and significant others. Now use that knowledge to apply it to how you love yourself. That way, you’ll start to treat yourself the way you treat your significant other and your best friend: with love and respect. Don’t talk to yourself in a way that you wouldn’t talk to your best friend.

  • Appreciate the beauty that is being put out there by the media, don’t trash other women, and fight for representation of your skin and body by celebrating those who look like you. The more people you see being celebrated in the media who resemble you, the more confident you will feel. Some of my personal favorites are Sarah Rae Vargas and Ashley Graham!

  • Follow accounts that motivate you to feel better about yourself. Find accounts of people who feel confident and loved, especially those whose body types are similar to your own. That way, you’ll see their posts on your timeline every time you scroll through social media, and your brain will be exposed to that type of body positivity. You can find these accounts by navigating hashtags like #SelfLove and #BodyPositivity. If you are on a weight loss journey, find accounts that post before and after pictures. Scroll through them, find someone whose body type looks like your own, and follow that person.

  • Unfollow anyone who doesn’t make you feel like you’re a fuc*ing star. You’re a fuc*ing star; act like one!
  • Improve whatever you feel you need to improve, but love yourself as a whole in the process. This includes your fitness, your weight, your hair, your skin, and your body parts. I’m rooting for whatever you wanna do. Self-improvement, self-care, and self-love can go hand in hand, and they should
  • Read books that discuss confidence, self-love, and self-worth. Listen to podcasts. Listen to feel-good music; Lizzo’s Good as Hell is a good one, Hailee Steinfeld’s Love Myself is another, and Bebe’s Ella, a Spanish song, is marvelous.

  • Surround yourself with people who will lift you higher. You don’t have to keep people around who make you feel unworthy or give you anxiety. If you can’t cut them off, distance yourself. Surround yourself with good, positive people. In my experience, if I have to hang out with someone who makes me feel a certain way, and sometimes I do, I distance myself as much as possible and keep that type of negative vibe away for me. Trust me—it WORKS. Mental health first, social life second.
  • Self-love won’t happen overnight; it’ll happen gradually over time.
  • It’s not fair to yourself to compare yourself to others. We are all different; we all have different body types and genetics.

  • Do more things that make you happy. For you. Have you-time. Find something you like, and do it. That way, you’ll start to build a relationship with yourself that has nothing to do with other people. If you are good at make-up, practice it. If you are good at sports, play them. If you are good at a musical instrument, learn new music. That can be your you-time. Get really good at it and spend time developing that talent. Having something specific that you are good at will make you feel better about yourself. Find your thing. If you cannot find anything you are naturally good at, explore new things. That is when self-love becomes a choice. How much work are you willing to put into it?

  • Law of attraction: You attract what you put out there. Be kind and be positive. You can find the good in most situations.
Self-love is something we have to exercise every day of our lives. It’s a learned habit.

If you want more tips on how to exercise self-love and self-care, I found this lovely article about it. Click here. 

Remember, taking care of your mental health and how you feel about yourself is just as important as taking care of your body.

Be positive and be kind to people.



How I Started Working Out

Saturday, June 22, 2019

“I hate working out,” said everyone, ever. 

For a long time, I genuinely believed no one in the world actually liked working out. I figured it was something people knew they had to do, and maybe they were okay with it, but no one would actually choose the gym over lying on their couch with snacks. I was convinced the world had secretly agreed to pretend liking working out to trick us into it, and we were all boo-boo the fools. Working out seemed terrible to me. The sweat, the moving, the accelerated heartbeat... I hated it all. I hated the feeling of being out of breath and the feeling of being bored while exercising. I didn't understand why I needed to feel pain to gain. Not only did I hate working out, but I also hated walking in general. From parking lots to grocery stores to Disney to airports… I hated all walking. I never felt the endorphins kick in, and if anything, working out made me feel irritated. Walking, to be more precise, bored me.

Imagine my shock when I became that girl going to a park at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning… to walk. 

Winters in Miami are hot, but this day was a cold one!

I’m by no means a fitness guru, and I know very little about how muscles work. I did just recently learn that muscle burns more calories than fat when you’re at rest. So the more muscle-y and buff you are, the more calories your body will naturally burn. I’m serious. Google it! The first thing that comes up is: “10 pounds of muscle would burn 50 calories in a day spent at rest, while 10 pounds of fat would burn 20 calories.”

The truth is, I don’t know if muscle will actually burn calories as I pleasantly watch Money Heist on Netflix, but any time I mention it on social media, I always get a kind soul mansplaining how muscle actually works and why I’m right but still wrong.

Whenever I’m faced with these situations, I automatically choose to do what feels right for me.

When I first started working out, at 245.6 pounds, I had these three thoughts running through my head:
1. Walking helps a lot of people lose weight and get healthy. I should walk.
2. Strength training is bad for you if you want to see weight loss—no, wait, it’s actually good for you. No. Wait. It’s bad. Is it bad? Why is this a debate?
3. I hate working out.

So how did I start working out?
First, I decided I wasn’t going to push myself too hard. Then, I decided I was going to build endurance at a slow pace. My pace. That was important to me: going at my own pace so I wouldn’t quit. Since I hated walking so much, I needed to do it on my own terms: slow and steady. I was in no rush to run a marathon (and I’m still not!). I didn’t want to get overwhelmed or discouraged. My idea was: lightly push yourself, but don’t pressure yourself. No need to stress. We are living our best lives here. Build it up. See what happens. There must be a reason some people enjoy working out. So that's what I did. Plain and simple: Slow and steady wins the race.

First step: deciding to work out.
Second step: working out.  

All through December 2018, I walked for half a mile anytime I wanted to, for however long it took me. This usually meant a couple times a week. I couldn’t even tell you how long it’d take me to do that half mile, but at my turtle pace, I can assure you it took a while. I like waking up early, so I took advantage of my early mornings to walk around my park. And I did get tired. Often times, I had to find a bench to sit on for a little bit after completing one quarter of a mile because my calves would start to hurt—TRUE STORY.

When January came along, I was fully committed to my slow, turtle pace, walking. I began walking around my park for a mile almost every morning. Rain or shine. I want to say it would take me 30 minutes to do it, but it was probably longer than that.

That’s how I started working out.

By walking.

I didn’t LOVE doing it. I just knew I had to do it in order to get healthier. What helped me pass the time at first? Social media. I hated working out, so I needed to keep myself entertained the best way I could. I would get on my phone and navigate Instagram and Twitter while walking. Switching from my personal account to my fitness account, I would pass the time going back and forth, scrolling and liking pictures, watching and posting Instagram stories, interacting with others, and tweeting. That helped the process a lot—it entertained me. I enjoyed the interaction. I found a way of working out while keeping myself entertained. I’m sure I looked like your average everyday basic millennial on my phone while walking around a park, but it did the trick. I had to do what I had to do. So I did that every morning, until one day I didn’t mind the walking.

It’s about creating habits.
Discipline kicks in when the motivation is not there
It’s a decision you make.
“I’m going to do this” or “I won’t.”
No one needs motivation to brush their teeth.
It’s habit.

I did my mile mostly walking, and then I challenged myself to run for 30 seconds whenever I wanted to. That was the key: whenever I wanted to. Not having that pressure, or feeling like I needed to meet unrealistic fitness expectations, really helped. I ran for just 30 seconds, but let me tell you, those were my proudest 30 seconds. I could barely make it to 30 seconds, but I would feel like the dang queen of my park. 

Weeks passed, and I began doing 1.5 miles. It was around this time that my knees failed on me (too sore from carrying so much weight), so I had to move to the gym and do low-impact exercises (look at me with that fancy fitness talk. I Googled that). Once I got my knees back into good shape, I began walking again. 

It was around that time that I also decided to try other types of exercise: elliptical, Zumba, and kickbox cardio. I even took on swimming for a while. For months, I did some type of physical activity every day. 

There are many forms of exercise out there. 
Explore what works best for you
by trying out all workouts. 
One will eventually click.

I also did strength training. Maybe once a week. I read a little bit about it, and from what I understood, strength training meant building muscle, and muscle meant weight. But not Fat weight. Muscle weight is the good kind weight—the weight you want to have. I decided I didn’t care if I saw the number on the scale go up, as long as I was eating healthy and building muscle. This helps tone your body. I would watch different videos on YouTube on how to lift 5-pound weights, and my best friend would train me every weekend. We’d do machines (especially booty machines) and different arm exercises for about an hour. FYI: It’s important to note that even when I was gaining muscle, I did not see the number on the scale go up. (My theory is that I was gaining muscle at a slow pace.)

I’d also like to note that I still do cardio and strength training with my best friend and on my own. I still watch YouTube videos: I choose the video at random. I’m doing 8-pound weights now. I still haven’t seen the number on the scale go up.

Simple steps for real beginners

  • Walk for half a mile 3-4 times a week for two weeks. Don't worry about your time, but keep a record of it. Go at your own pace.
  • After these two weeks, start walking a mile. 3-4 times a week. At your own pace.
  • After this first month of walking, start trying to beat your own time. The competition is with yourself. 
  • Add 30 seconds of running to your mile. Do this for a week. 
  • The next week, run for 45 seconds while you do your mile.
  • The next week, increase your mile to a mile and a half, and run for a minute, 3-4 times a week.
  • So on and on and on... 
Doing it slowly but surely worked for me. I took the bait. I suddenly went from hating exercising to liking it—and then to loving it. Ok… maybe not loving, but close enough. I enjoy it. And I do love it sometimes. Would I still rather watch Netflix while munching on snacks? Honestly, sometimes, yeah. But other times, I’d much rather work out. And for those days when I’m lacking the motivation to make that decision, I tell myself: “If you want it, you’ll do it.” If I want to lose two pounds this week, I better do the work! Discipline is what allows me to keep going. Discipline is what made me like working out. I did it enough times that my brain did that click. 

Discipline and consistency. 

Now it’s becoming habit.

Keeping it Real
There are days I don't feel like working out. Some days I make myself do it anyway, and some days, like today, I allow laziness and comfort to win. But I let it win. I control it. I tell myself "you don't want to workout? Fine. Today will be your rest day. Enjoy!" and then I don't feel guilty about it. Most times, however, I do push myself to workout. That's when discipline kicks in. 

June 13, 2019 struggling to get my booty to the gym.
I did go to the gym, but did yoga instead of cardio.
Giving myself small goals really helped (and still does). I tell myself, “You have to run from this tree to that other one. Go!” Or I say, “Today my goal is to run for 45 seconds instead of 30.” Other times, I say, “I’ll run for however long this song lasts.” That really keeps my mind entertained and motivated. I still do that. Except now, I’m inclining my treadmill, and I tell myself the speed has to match the incline level and last for .10 miles on each level. I play around with speed and incline a lot.

My advice to everyone starting is stick to things you like (or don’t hate) for whatever amount of time you feel comfortable with. Push yourself when that comfort gets too comfortable, but don’t stress yourself out. Entertain yourself with other things. Keep your mind busy. If you like reading, read while you walk. If you like YouTube, watch videos while you work out. Get a bomb playlist. Close your eyes. Disconnect. It’s you-time. Do it. One day you’ll find yourself liking it, or at least doing it out of habit. You’ll thank yourself later, I promise.

“I regret that workout” -Said no one, ever. Right? 

How do you motivate yourself to workout? 

I tell myself: Get it moving. Just do it. 

Kick some booty and be kind to people.


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